Sustainability: Research Limitations

During the proposal stage, there are common limitations to assess and to acknowledge during proposal development:

Availability - and quality - of samples or cases for analysis

  • Availability for thesis research based on proprietary status or ownership
  • Key attributes of data - biases in selection or samples that are included
    • Can key variables be estimated sufficiently for cost-benefit modeling, or statistical tests?
    • Can an unbiased sample be analyzed? Is sample size sufficient for statistical tests?

Unknown time required to collect or analyze data

  • Pilot studies recommended to better estimate likely time constraints
  • Some types of analyses - such as GIS data - may be time consuming

Limited domain of interference or ability to generalize results

  • Are the results relevant just to this context, or are they expected to be applicable to a more general context?
  • The context might be a specific time and place: building type, species, cultural group, ecosystem, etc.

Expected Results

Considering your methods and these limitations, what do you expect to achieve?

  • Will you be able to test your hypotheses, and if so, what is their significance?
  • What kinds of sustainability practices or policies will be advised by your results?

Note that this section:

  • Considers conclusions and implications you will cover in the Discussion of your thesis
  • Should loop back to your research goals, significance, questions and hypotheses - are these all consistent?  If not, you should revise these!